Harvard University and Deerfield Management, a healthcare investment firm, have established a major strategic R&D alliance to speed the development and translation of biomedical and life-science innovations into transformative treatments that can improve life, health, and medical care. Through a newly launched company called Lab1636, Deerfield has committed up to $100 million in initial funding to support the alliance. A private company wholly owned by affiliates of Deerfield, Lab1636 will support Harvard R&D projects throughout various stages of drug discovery and development, for example enabling studies to explicate the biology of disease, validate therapeutic targets, or achieve a proof-of-concept necessary for filing an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. Harvard’s R&D projects to be funded by Lab1636 will be selected by a joint steering committee, and the projects will be initiated by eligible principal investigators from labs across the University (see eligibility requirements). The projects will generally focus on the development of novel therapeutics, ideally advancing many to a stage that would enable the filing of an IND application and, if successful, the commencement of clinical trials in patients.
Deerfield is an investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. For more information, please visit www.deerfield.com.
Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) promotes the public good by fostering innovation and translating new inventions made at Harvard University into useful products that are available and beneficial to society. Our integrated approach to technology development comprises sponsored research and corporate alliances, intellectual property management, and technology commercialization through venture creation and licensing. For more information, please visit otd.harvard.edu.
Vivian Berlin, PhD, is Executive Director, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD), having been part of OTD’s business development team since 2008. During her tenure at OTD, Dr. Berlin has established numerous major research alliances between the university and industry partners, which have provided more than $170M in research funding to Harvard. She has spearheaded the commercialization of groundbreaking life-science technologies developed at Harvard, notably through licenses to startups focused on developing next-generation therapeutics (e.g. Semma, Magenta, Editas, Beam, Sana, Fog) that have collectively raised $1.6B in venture financing and greater than $1B from IPOs and M&A. Prior to joining Harvard, Dr. Berlin held positions in research management and business development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Mitotix, and GPC Biotech. She led multiple R&D programs, advanced programs from discovery to late pre-clinical development, and helped to establish proprietary positions in several therapeutic areas. She has also been a strategic consultant to several life-science companies and investor groups. Vivian holds an M.S. from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
Michael Foley, Ph.D., is Chief Executive Officer for Deerfield Discovery and Development, and Vice President of Translational Drug Development at Deerfield. Dr. Foley joined Deerfield in 2018 to focus on academic collaborations. Most recently, he was the CEO and Sanders Director at Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute (Tri-I TDI) where he led the efforts to discover drug candidates in an academic setting. Prior to Tri-I TDI, he was Director of the Chemical Biology Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Dr. Foley is the founder and a director of Forma Therapeutics. In 2001, he founded Infinity Pharmaceuticals and in 2000, he founded CombinatoRx. In 1999, he was a founding member of the Harvard Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology and served as the head of Chemical Technology. He was a GlaxoSmithKline Fellow at Harvard University and previously a Research Chemist at GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Foley began his career at Bristol-Myers Squibb as a Research Chemist. He received his B.S. from St. Norbert College, his M.S. from Utah State University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Jana Jensen, PhD, is the Chief Operating Officer, Deerfield Discovery and Development, and joined the Firm in 2019. Prior to Deerfield, Dr. Jensen was Vice President and Head of Business Operations at Covance. Before Covance, Dr. Jensen spent almost 11 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where she was Head of Development Business Operations and R&D Collaboration, and prior to that, she was Director of Vendor and Outsourcing Management and Associate Director of Project Planning and Management. Dr. Jensen spent six years at Pfizer as a research scientist and began her career as a chemist at Merck. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and an M.B.A. from Rutgers University.
Curtis Keith, PhD has served as Chief Scientific Officer of Harvard University’s Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator (previously, Harvard Biomedical Accelerator Fund) since 2008. By providing financial and other support, the Accelerator helps bridge the gap between early-stage research emanating from Harvard labs and validated de-risked technologies that are ready for industry partnership. To date the Accelerator has provided $24 million in direct funding to 134 projects from across Harvard University. Nearly half of completed Accelerator projects have been partnered with industry – either through startup formation, or collaborations and licensing agreements with existing biotech and pharmaceutical companies. More than 20 new startups have been launched to commercialize Accelerator-funded innovations and these have collectively raised over $2 billion in equity financing. In all, the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator's partnered technologies and collaborative research projects have generated more than $100 million in licensing revenue and research funding, supporting continued discovery and innovation at Harvard. Prior to joining Harvard University, Dr. Keith was Senior Vice President of Research at CombinatoRx, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company he cofounded in 2000. Under his leadership, CombinatoRx created an integrated technology platform for the discovery of multi-target therapeutics, yielding a broad pipeline of preclinical and clinical drug candidates in areas including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Keith earned his BSc in biochemistry from McGill University and received his AM and PhD in chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard University.
Matthew Shair, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, an associate of the Broad Institute and an affiliate of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The Shair lab develops novel small molecule therapeutics and using chemical probes discovered in the lab, they study human disease biology. Recently, his lab discovered that small molecule inhibition of CDK8 and CDK19 is a new therapeutic approach to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and that these kinases regulate expression of key cell fate determining genes in AML cells. He has been the recipient of several awards for his work, most notably the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences-Chemistry and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award. In addition, he has been a founder of several biotech companies including Infinity Pharmaceuticals and an advisor to Ariad, Enanta, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis.
William Slattery is a Partner, in collaboration with the Deerfield Discovery and Development team and joined the Firm in 2000. Prior to Deerfield, Mr. Slattery was a senior healthcare analyst for ten years at Amerindo Investment Advisors, where he oversaw biotechnology investments. He has held various positions in research including those at National Medical Enterprises, Johnson & Johnson, and HMSS. Mr. Slattery is the Chairman of Gilda’s Club New York City, a non-profit organization supporting cancer patients and their families. He holds an undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry from State University of New York at Albany and completed coursework in Immunology at the Graduate School-New Brunswick, Rutgers University.
Diana Sanchez Palencia, PhD, is Alliance Director in Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD). Diana has worked with the Corporate Alliances team at OTD since 2017. During this time, she has managed numerous multi-program alliances with mid- and large-size industry partners from the pharmaceutical sector, a portfolio that has provided meaningful R&D funding to Harvard laboratories focused on diverse therapeutic areas. Diana leads the day-to-day operations of the Corporate Alliances team, including its function of sourcing new early innovation opportunities from Harvard faculty whose academic interests align synergistically with the R&D interests of the industry partners, while providing effective alliance management to ensure the success of the research collaborations. Prior to joining OTD, Diana was a postdoctoral fellow at the Schepens Eye Research Institute / Harvard Medical School, where she conducted research to develop a novel in-vitro model of the neurovascular unit. Prior to that, Diana completed doctoral studies in the field of regenerative medicine, mostly on the development of an extracellular matrix–based vascular graft to regenerate arteries. Diana also won accolades in business plan competitions to commercialize life-science technologies, and worked as a patent engineer at an IP law firm. Diana earned her B.E. in Mechanical Engineering, M.Sc. in Biomedical Sciences, and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia.
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